Science for the Gardener

Discover how to make a greener more successful garden with a bit of science. 

science talk

– Get to know your plants including prehistoric ones!

– Plants names and family Names

– Reproduction by Division ,Growth and Two Parent Sexual reproduction

– Understanding the soil beneath plants

– Soil Fertilisers pH and soil testing

– Aquaponics non soil gardening

– How climate change is affecting today’s garden

Plant History (2 slides)

There was a lot of interest generated when I started to talk about prehistoric plants.  Plants, as well as animals, were much bigger 200 million years ago.

Identification and Plant Names (8 slides)

Latin, Greek and some Arabic have been used over the centuries by botanists and plant explorers as convenient international botanical language to name plants.  Don’t drive other gardeners mad with your knowledge of botanical Latin, very few will understand you, and many may become irritated!

Most gardeners know their plants by a mixture of common and English botanical names.  Common names vary from one part of the country to another.  Try the fun quiz to see how well you know your plants.

Genus and Species was introduced to the audience as the botanical language used in the plant world, with a number of pictures as examples of different species of the same plant (genus).  Examples of different tree species size were of particular interest.  Gardeners are advised to check on eventual size and rate of growth before making a purchase.

Variations in plant species are covered in a slide with examples that can be found on plant labels, e.g. forma etc.  Separate slides cover hybrids and grafting.

Plant family slides (6 slides) attracted considerable interest with the comparison of some of their main characteristics being a topic for discussion.  Another quiz on plant families keeps the audience focused and guessing.

The section finishes with a third quiz on identifying trees.

Reproduction and Propagation (5 slides)

The slides work together on this related subject from sexual to asexual with emphasis on cell growth.  Plants have a far more varied and interesting sex life than humans, although reproduction by division is not an option that I would envy.

Soil, nutrients and hormones (13 slides)

More ‘down to earth’ discussions come from this subject as many gardeners find it difficult to come to terms with what soil they have underneath and out of sight of their plants.

The slides cover the basic required mixture of a good loam comprising inorganic soil and organic matter that provide moisture retention, the main NPK nutrients, trace elements and hormones.

Aquaponics (1 slide)

A brief illustrated explanation of this more industrial method of growing plants with examples of modern day and future applications attracted considerable interest.

Climate change (1 slide)

How will climate change affect your garden in the future?

This is a good subject for discussion and a chance to pose your own and group questions and answers.  The slide provides the main discussion factors affecting climate change.  A lively discussion and debate inevitably follows with very few of the audience not participating.